The Anomalies of Capitalism (1800-1945)

Capitalism, by design, is a socioeconomic framework that is rampant with contradiction. The juxtaposition of an enhanced standard of living with a decomposition of human values is quite spectacular. This unusual phenomenon is especially obvious early on in capitalism. Here is some artwork that exemplifies the costs which accompany the benefits of a capitalist system. It is important to highlight these costs, because in today's culture they are often glossed over or forgotten. Here is a light hearted summary of popular economic theory with the human experience conveniently left out:

Napoleon Bonaparte, one of Hitler's most admired figures, was perhaps the most influential person in history in terms of spreading the ideas of capitalism to Western Europe. Where would capitalism be today without him?
Capitalism brings about an ambition unprecedented in human history. The standard of living increases across the board. These increases are greater than the total increase up to this point in human civilization.
Adam Smith saw industrialization as a good thing, and the division of labor as essential for supplying goods cheaply to everyone. However, he also foresaw problems with this - that the worker, having to perform one simple task on a daily basis was in danger of losing autonomy and becoming dumb as an ox.
The enslavement of Black people was essential for southern farmers to maintain high profits and comparative advantage over foreign competition. However, the relative cheapness of labor stifled technological advance and the south was at a considerable disadvantage after the Civil War.
Capitalism brings out an ugly side of human nature. Competition and desire for profit takes precedence over everything - including the well-being of our children. Though today there are regulations against child labor in the United States, many American companies outsource labor to countries in Asia and Africa, where child labor is still common practice.
Depicted here are the poor working conditions of middle class workers early in the history of capitalism. Images like this help us understand the roots of Marxian thought - eventually the proletariat, fed up with being mistreated, would rise up and overthrow the bourgeoisie.
The man in this painting stands in an empty warehouse and ponders his plight. How is it possible that just a few years ago his warehouse was full of products and workers and now it is empty? Who was to blame?
Our nation was perhaps most fervently industrious during WWII. The nation was employed to full capacity, a feat that has yet to be repeated. A war of the worlds may have been the only solution for the economic woes of the Great Depression.
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